After deciding to install new wood flooring in your home, you may be eager to pick out the perfect material that will look amazing in your space. Your inclination may be to focus on important factors like wood color, wood type, texture and the overall price of the material. While these factors are important and deserve ample attention, your search for flooring should begin with a decision between solid timber flooring and engineered timber flooring. While they may look almost identical on the surface, they have critical differences that will affect your experience with it before and after installation.
Understanding Engineered Timber Flooring
The first thing that you should understand is that both engineered timber flooring and solid timber planks are made out of wood. Uniquely, engineered timber flooring is comprised of several thin layers of wood. They are usually laid with striations in opposing directions for added strength and durability. Depending on the actual engineered product that you select, the planks may have a laminated or veneer layer on the surface. On some engineered wood products, the bottom material may be made out of durable yet affordable materials like pine, plywood or rubber wood. This unique composition gives the engineered timber flooring its many benefits, and it also attributes to its drawbacks.
Because of the extensive manufacturing and pre-finishing steps that are completed with the production of engineered timber flooring, this type of material is much less likely to contract and expand because of environmental conditions before and after installation. This makes the material well-suited for use in areas with high humidity. You also do not generally have to allow engineered timber planks to acclimate to the area’s environment before installing them.
In addition, the material is boxed in its finished form. No sanding or polishing is required after the planks have been installed. In fact, this type of floor can be used by the home’s occupants on the same day that it is delivered and installed. The planks are generally wider, and this can also contribute to a faster installation process. The wider planks also contribute to an open, inviting ambiance in the room.
Engineered timber flooring has a few other benefits as well. For example, it is generally more affordable than solid timber flooring. You will also discover that it is available in a slightly wider variety of styles and finishes.
One of the reasons why homeowners are drawn to hardwood flooring is because of the ability to refinish the floor rather than to replace it when it gets worn. Engineered timber flooring can be refinished, but this is only the case if the planks were adhered to the floor during installation. Keep in mind, however, that the top layer on the engineered planks is relatively thin. Care must be taken when sanding and refinishing this material to avoid irreparable damage. While adhering the planks to the floor is essential for the ability to refinish engineered wood planks in the future, this installation process typically nullifies the manufacturer’s warranty.
There are a few other drawbacks that you need to be aware of for engineered wood planks. They may be more susceptible to damage from water exposure and spills because of their composition. In addition, when the lower levels of the planks are made out of cheaper materials, the engineered planks may not be as strong and as durable as solid wood planks.
Understanding Solid Timber Flooring
On the other hand, each solid timber floor plank is made out of a single piece of wood. The planks are often smaller in size, and they may have deep texturing, a smooth surface or a hand-scraped surface. The actual properties of the planks will depend on the wood species. Nonetheless, you will find that solid timber flooring has a few standout qualities that differentiate it from the alternatives.
When solid wood planks are taken care of properly, they can remain a beautiful addition to the space for many decades. This is because the material can be sanded and refinished numerous times before it needs to be replaced. This is compared with the ability to refinished engineered flooring only once or twice. Both of these materials can add value and appeal to the floor. Through their appearance and feel under your feet, you may not be able to tell the difference between them.
One of the most significant drawbacks associated with solid timber flooring is the fact that the wood is prone to expanding and contracting based on environmental conditions. It generally must be acclimated in the environment where it will be installed for at least a few days before it is installed. Even with this step taken, the home’s interior climate should still remain controlled. Opening the windows on a humid day could result in serious damage to the floor. The issue of expansion and contraction also impacts the installation process. Properly installed solid wood planks have small, strategic gaps in between them to accommodate the shrinkage and expansion. Thus, the installation process is longer and more challenging.
Should You Install Solid Timber or Engineered Timber Flooring?
Deciding between solid and engineered timber flooring requires insight about several factors. Because of the price difference, your budget will play a major role in your selection process. You also must think about your climate, your tendency to leave the windows open and your long-term plans to remain in the home.
Regardless of whether you choose to install solid timber or engineered timber flooring in your home, you will undoubtedly love the impact that this lovely material has on interior ambiance and style. Now that you know more about the differences between these materials, you can more confidently explore the possibilities and make your selection.